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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  February 23, 2013 2:00am-6:00am EST

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when we bring urgency to any discussion it is a constructive thing to do. >> there are areas that look at failing states the cia failing state index the committee and had a they play in this? . .
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mary frances berry on booktv on c-span 2.
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>> i'm sure you're more familiar with malcolm knox. at that time, he was always supposedly the man in favor of violence. that wasn't the issue. he did support the right of
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armed self-defense, but he didn't promote progressive violence. malcolm x said power against power. we are not going to convince the right segregationists to accept. we have to build our own four saves until they have no choice but to recognize their demands and that's power. and he called this black nationalism. he built a whole ideology about it. that's black pride. it meant economies of black communities, the northern ghetto, so to speak should be run by blacks instead of absentee white owners. he believes community control of schools. so yes, he believes in black autonomy. he's not an integrationist as such and he said it's up to us, it is our struggle.
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>> taylor branch, author of the multivolume, "america in the king years" presents his thoughts on key moments in the civil rights movement. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> thank you, mr. hill. i've been here before. i'm glad to be back and now glad to be back talking about something that has been a subject dear to me for my whole life and is inescapable now that i'm getting older, that it is my life's work and i am glad for it. this is another round. i'm going to take more questions tonight. going to say provocative things about what i think this history is significant and about this
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project itself, which is a little odd to spend 24 years writing a 2300 page trilogy and commodity years later with 190 page book. a lot of people who have read some of the other ones think it's probably not true, that i'm not capable of writing something this brief. i assure you that i did. there is blood on the floor of my office because it's about eliminating or setting aside 95% of what i worked so hard to produce. in the interest of finding them is failing apart in the original language and 18 moments that i thought could reintroduce, nmr compact form, the major element, and is a large kerry is dear to
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me and i will tonight. i'm still curious myself to people who have lived the whole trilogy. i get a cell the time for people who say they read the whole trilogy every year and i am very grateful. that's an amazing thing. most folks out of bookstores and six months or less. these are still around for 20 something years. they're americans who who won't pick up even a storytelling boat that involves people personally at this more than 800 pages long. which my books are. when my publisher came to me with the challenge to try to have a compact version that would involve making the selections number one, which was hard enough, but then writing new material to summarize what was left out and drop you into each story in a sense to give
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people a sense of the full sweep of an extraordinary transformational era. i accepted it for two reasons. number one, teachers over the years have complained to me that their students relate to storytelling, particularly trying to understand race relations. most of what passes for discussion of race relations in the united states' argument and argument is just people making themselves look good by pretending to discover some thing. taking some sort of morally unassailable point of view and defending it with new labels the new words. we are trained in the last few think analytical words command detail. up largely of race relations, is fools gold when things are really personal. teachers say they couldn't
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assign an 800 page that two high school students. and even a lot of college students. quite frankly, two years ago, i went for a foundation in new york, which makes teaching is available to teach american history. the same in idaho to talk to teachers about the challenges of teaching american history in particular civil rights history. i don't know how many of you have gone to idaho, but i went reluctantly because there's basically no black people in idaho and i didn't know anybody would be interested in it. i was thrilled on one hand that they were intensely interested and they said something that's really obvious, which is something i always say. they said this is not just race relations. this is about fairness.
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this is citizenship, stuff that is really broad. we want to teach this material, but here's the way it is, taylor. on sunday night in idaho, i cooking dinner for my kids and with one hand and googling the internet and a desperate hope that i can find something that has been a storytelling that i can present it to my kids and are you for days they get to communicate the civil rights movement. our textbooks are oatmeal, arguments with dave holland and, deliberately trying to make this history and accessible. i didn't do anything. the institute may not be popular here, but it's a very good organization. [laughter] so we've apologize. anyway, these teachers in idaho
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said, what you don't realize is we are on the low end of the totem pole of your history teacher. school is in the united states are now evaluated by test scores for students and can wish and not, not history. if you're a good history teacher, you're suggesting you might do well to teach english because the school is not evaluated on history. but that a sense of american history, it's impossible to teach citizenship, which is also been wiped out of our curriculum. they say our schools are not go to teach history based bsn we are not treating citizens of the blue citizens are response to vote for their own government, we are imperiling their own republic. we are at the low-end of the budget scale if you are in the history department at the public high school in idaho because most of the budgetary priority goes to the other subjects.
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our textbooks aren't very good to begin with. please do something because it's not just about the storytelling and your trilogy, we can't assign it to her kids. most of our kids are getting their material on ipods anyhow. if there were material put in a form we could use, we could i pass the whole text with business and engage our students and have a great leap forward. i met a lot of these teachers and it occurred to me they've been telling me the same thing for years. storytelling is critical in race, but it has to be done in a way that is palatable for the student in the last thing in the world we can do is blame the students for not learning the history that does not come through their umbilical cord. if we don't teach it to them, we cannot blame them for not
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learning. if i believe if they do and i'm going to explain very briefly why they think the american history is not easy to get, are vital to have, then it's worth every bit of effort we can make to try and make it easy for teachers who are primary conduits for added our republic can't hear and how are you going to preserve and improve it? someone is teachers that made me accept this challenge from a publisher. the other was a growing sense of frustration. i'll just give you a few cents as of this and then take questions. frustration that we are fundamentally out of balance in our historical understanding of the last 50 years. that car on content determines
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what we have receptive to to a degree that is much greater than we realize and as bad a real appreciation for the challenge, privilege, potential, intellectual content of the spirit has been pigeonholed in so many respects to make it less meaningful in our everyday lives across the lines that divide us banish it to you. so i thought what really got me with the publishers with the idea of convincing the 2300 pages into less than 200 gives me the opportunity to pick the things that i think are the most salient on the full sweep of the civil rights era, which i define as 64 to 58, peak years on the brown decision to the death of dr. king as a matter of
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coincidence, 54 is the year dr. king took his first church. he started his career. he was only 39 when he was killed in his short career exactly matches those 14 years. if i could find 18 moments i thought communicated the full sweep of the third not only as an introduction to a new generation of young people in the digital age and possibly i hope to a heck of lot of older people who don't really like 800 page books and some of the people who have complained to me about their 18 collarbone and various things on airplanes for my book, but they probably didn't finish the book either and are much more likely to get through 190 page versions. in so doing, i could concentrate but i think are the essential lessons in a way that would make people began to come out of this
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pervasive sense of amnesia star-studded perception. what i really call it is failed memory, misremembering, which is part of history that the dangerous part of history in this area. so i agreed to do it. it is novel to take your own work, redo it, try to rework it of the lessons come out and insert the integrity. it is so novel that it is an e-book now. they've got a young actor who is on smash, reading the audio version. it's the only complete audio version that had done. they'll maybe 10% on the abridged edition. this is the full thing read by leslie odom junior, who does
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about the tuskegee airmen. he did a fabulous job. the really new thing to name his favorite e-books and e-books or mail a go on i hope for students. but now they even have one called an enhanced e-book. i have any because i don't own a device that would be able -- i don't have an ipod or a mac. i've only seen it briefly. what an enhanced e-book is as it says there is a demonstration occurring. there will be of little things sane if you click here you can see news footage of the demonstration described in the text. on your computer you see a. there's a passage about the importance of music in the civil rights movement. i will say click here and here,
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singing this little light of mine in 1864. you can click and when you do, you won't forget it and you'll understand the peculiar power of that music, or martin luther king called the plan a johnson nervous that the whole alliance with the undermined by the vietnam war and i describe in the conversation in the nerves and how it happened, you can click and hear martin luther king talk to lyndon johnson on the telephone. this is an enhanced that -- an enhanced e-book. i have no idea what the marketing story. the publisher or the knows anything about it because there's a lot of panic in the book business these days. but i'm glad that they did it. this is novel. it would probably take them in hundred years in the hope that the economy to get to something
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is novel is an e-book and now they are doing it. i don't know how it will work. tomorrow in baltimore i am teaching a seminar built around a short book. i've taught it at other schools, chapel hill alma mater commuting from baltimore. this time it's different in two respects. it will be built to run shorter books with readings from the others, too. i have a seminar in front of me and people online from all over the country and even outside the country around the world, auditing this class in a test for whether or not we can use the same technology that will create an enhanced e-book, that use the technology to invite arch nemesis nancy tate part and send in questions and question each other and get to know each other using the web. so there are a lot of new items
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going on about how this is presented. i am struggling to catch up with myself. they've instructed me how to treat and twitter and facebook and all these other things, but a lot of things like the enhanced e-book i can't do because i don't have an ipod. i do believe in the possibility of immediacy and if you're trying to tell a legitimate story important from history, you need to take every resource, every chance he can to make connections. so that is the novelty side of what i am presenting here and i'm interested what you guys think about it. even the notion of using some of the language. i kind of stitch things together in the stories. but let me talk a little bit about our imbalance sense of history, the urgency that i think lies in the said act, why i want to do it, take the risk
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to make another connection with you. we had inauguration this week, barack obama january night teen, 2013. this very month his fault that they cannot bursaries regarding race in america in his tree. it's exactly 150 years ago since the emancipation proclamation by lincoln, which is now popularized in the story of the 13th amendment, to january january 33265 in the spielberg film nominated for the academy award. we are getting a sense of the history. the more pertinent for a, 105th ears, 2013, to get a sense of how tricky this history
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has been, i want you to think about the 50 year anniversary. 50 years ago this january, in january 1963, i was getting my drivers license. that was a big deal. martin luther king was resolved to go into birmingham this month. he decided and he didn't tell his father and he didn't tell any of its board members because he knew they would try to stop them. what he said was after eight years since the brown decision, the forces defending segregation have mobilized more vociferously across the segregated state and the forces of freedom and we're about to lose her window in history and if i don't take my race than i have because he was unique among civil rights leaders and saying the students were ahead of time, been willing to risk more.
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not a deeper understanding, but they're willing to accept more risk than he was. he was a reluctant witness, that he may because of his stability, he said human nature has certain things for which words alone are not powerful enough to change human beings. you have to amplify the sacrifice, with witness and these young students are pioneers in history in politics. in january 63, he said for the first time, i'm going to risk my life and he designed his plan to go into birmingham that later had such a big impact on me. he designed it, work on a comic january, february march combustor demonstrations in april. nobody paid tinkers bit of attention. it was not published anywhere in the united states.
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he was about to withdraw from birmingham and a colossal failure but he was talked until one of the greenest risks in politics either if they don't retreat until you invite high school students can a junior high school students in elementary school students to demonstrate in birmingham. and there were in birmingham about whether he had lost his sanity. to lose a campaign like this, to create such tension, he was criticized by everybody from president kennedy on down. these are untimely, don't pay any attention. he took supremists can allow children to march and that's when they unleashed the dogs and this is the great tipping point psychologically for the united states because until that point, many people, including myself and alders said the race issue is troublesome aggregation is
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wrong, but it's somebody else's job to do something about it and i might write a petition or in my case wait until a good old and secure it dirty and do something about it and i turned around their seat wrote gross margin in birmingham and it really broke the emotional distance most people had. that is 1963. we are coming up for the next five years on a series of amazing recent 50 years ago, which in the span of history's buddy blank. what i hope the march of these anniversaries will do is to somehow bring america's appreciation for the meaning of this history for future, not just for a past, more into alignment with its true impact on history. and to help you understand what i mean by this, think of one
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other thing from 50 years ago this month, january 1963. george wallace took office as governor of alabama in a speech and inaugural address famously announced he would defend segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. he was speaking for a caste system that is pervasive not only in the laws and state constitutions a southern states, but many cultural institutions across the whole country a separation. this was separation strictly by race is that this segregation was about. young black people couldn't go into libraries under law. he went to jail trying to go into a library. in birmingham, you couldn't even play checkers with a person of a different race. people went to prison in mississippi for riding on a bus
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seated next to somebody from a different race. segregation was pervasive beyond what we think. when you stop and think about it, it is pervasive in a lot of things far beyond race. there were no women at yale. there were no women at the university of north carolina except nursing students. the student body was 95% male. no black students either, but no females. the idea of women at west point was beyond the imagination of the most visionary liberal. of course the word have even been invented. it is criminal behavior in all the states and was known as the practice that dare not speak its name. beyond that, there were no seat belt. people said that would be
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socialism. [laughter] when you turn on the television, many of the shows were sponsored by cigarette companies they showed people being healthy outdoors and sophisticated smoking. that is 1963. 50 years ago in a blink. no women in the clergy, nothing like that. george wallace pledges to defend segregation forever. obviously, he failed. and when he failed in the book on segregation on the strength of the witness of those little cave that went to jail in birmingham, it broke not just for black people, but the disabled, elderly, women, at that point almost two guys in years of rabbinic judaism and never in history a female rabbi.
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that was considered a ridiculous notion. but within just a few short years at the time the civil rights movement got people struggling to put equal souls and those means really down to its core. the first is not rabbi and now nobody thinks anything about it. the first line is a veteran of the civil rights movement who ran on demonstrations, struggling within yourself about what racial separation meant and not in the south. so what i am saying is the freedom movement set loose the widest liberation in human history are beyond strictly speaking the racial caste system that is deeply embedded in the southern state. and it did that, and all around
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here, when i was 16 years old, this odd and was what mixed-race we had here would've had all of our palms sweaty because we would be worried about ramifications of sitting here with these different people. at the clan was not dressed in police are not us, we berate somebody would be here in cse are reported to her father who might do some of his customers because for aikido. it was always about somebody else. they imprisoned everyone endocrine circle of fear in every breath you take is listed at the fact that reality is no longer there. those are the things we take for granted. those are the things we take for granted not only across relation, but the fact we are the sunbelt now. we have professional sports
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teams and the south that we couldn't have a very segregated. they dear mayor ivan allen says the sinister looking at the civil rights bill passed, build a sports stadium and landed to know what the team they didn't have guts of the lucky race to move here become the first professional sports team in the south. dr. king said in a liberated themselves are segregation because it was right and because it went to the core premise of equal souls to the core of the constitution accord the scriptures, it was a great race. psychologically, economically and in so many other ways. so the question i want to pose to you is the same question that drove me to say, the circuit reason beyond the teachers to try to make a salient to get
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people to address the question of why is there such a tremendous disconnect between the broad liberation across the land a relatively low cost historically. there are many markers and a lot of violent and a lot of psychic damage, but for the amount of social change produced, it was remarkably civilized. it blesses lots and lots of other people and yet in our public discourse today, we still think of public interchange. we have a largely cynical view. the dominant idea in politics in these 50 years has been the government is bad, at least one direct it towards the purposes of the civil rights movement. so if i am right that we are at that out my illustration -- the
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db2 illustrations for why you think it is so pervasive. number one, george wallace, the same man who sent segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever, fail to protect segregation by race or any other allied systems is subjugation that divided immigrant in areas that are overlooked because were not looking for them. we are not looking for areas that the immigration act of 1965, which overturned a century and a half of exclusions for legal immigrants, people who were strictly limited to the nations of northern europe premier league. holiday shanta at all of africa were excluded. in 1965, said anna johnson got
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the voting rights act through, he wanted to congress and said i've got them on their backs now. we've got to open up the world. he repealed the national origins act, which was a racial hierarchy reserve 80% for people to become citizens to three countries. england, ireland and germany. he repealed that any first-come, first-served system for the whole world for legal immigrants ..
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all of us are in this together in this world, and in the long run, the korean communities come and indonesian communities are a strength for us. that bill was passed in 1965. i guarantee you that not one person in 100 who studies the civil rights movement understands that it is a third pillar within the building rights act of 1965 to build a
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structure that will be not only a great strength, but a great inspiration. it is essential for diversity and we have to learn how to get along with one another. we are unconscious to a lot of these things that are consequences of the freedom set in motion by this movement that struggle for eight years. finally he gets a nobel the nobel prize, and all of his staff says let's do this, and he says no, next week. and then he is back in jail. the mountaintop is nice, but the valley called. we are all blessed by that, but
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we are unconscious about it. the example of it, the example that i want to give you as to how great i think the disconnect is, is that george wallace made that speech in 1953, and he could not prevent any of these great tides are coming. if you have a daughter and you want your daughter to have the whole world open to her, your daughter and your hope stands on the shoulders of this civil rights movement. all of this happened that george wallace, while he could not prevent it, he was a genius at politics. in inventing the phrases that are chilling even today. when it was no longer respectable to corrupt the
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process and play on the fears and resentments of the process as it was let loose, saying that democrats were telling us how to do our duties on where we could go to school, and that they were in cahoots with a biased national media that had a racial agenda to help pointy headed liberals concentrate all effective power in the central government in washington. now, if any of that is familiar to you in contemporary politics, i submit that those phrases were invented by one of the great geniuses in modern politics and concentrated. on top of that, wallace had another part of this genus. he insisted in public that he had never made a single comment in his public career that reflected poorly on anyone
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because of race. he would get indignant if you suggested that. that is part of the formula. the wilco consciousness to the power of race in our society. it makes us blind slowly, so slowly and so pervasively that i think it is totally unconscious. people repeat those phrases because they are normal. they are normal from the right and from the lack. people do not understand how much the left has contributed to the same kind of modern cynicism that is not a credit for the type of capacity that we should have. if we could tackle all of those problems and let loose the thing at such a low cost, if we recover our sense of confidence and commitment and struggles to reach across the wind, that was the essence of the movement, that is the essence of martin luther king day.
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it starts with something that is a great inspiration george wallace is exactly the opposite of that. take charge of your fears and resentment and adopt a fair and balanced attitude towards the possibilities of democracy. [inaudible] in that sense, i think that it
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is what ought to be a great and optimistic sense and now we have a lot of serious problems with an economy that has been stripped of its industrial base and facing international competition. we have environmental problems, just as problems, all of these things in the bond that we can create. that is the essence of patriotism they were figuring out ways to set in motion these freedoms that strengthen everyone and increase the economy and the ties that bind
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and a convert to be able to sit here tonight. we need to be able to do it again, and in order to do that, we have to have a better sense. because our history is not just about where we sat in the steel. our history is about our future and what tools we will use to build strength across the alliance. it is not often that we misremember these relations that are involved. i think we should be ashamed of doing it on the left and right. a lot in the civil rights movement turned against their own example. that includes people in the civil rights movement, the most
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powerful idea was the first one that was abandoned. there were a lot of other religions as well. the law turned against religion. it was half of the movement inspiration and half of doctor king's magnificent formula of equal service and equal votes. 1 foot in the scriptures and 1 foot in the constitution. the next thing you know. people are turning against the spiritual base of democracy. when i grow, the textbooks of the civil war had nothing to do with slavery. we have a lot of sentimental on with gone with the wind, and to this day, there are textbooks in history that refer to the political movement that oversaw the reconstruction governments and the supremacy in the south and pave the way for segregation, the textbooks refer
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to that movement as the redeemers. saying that redeemed this by terrorism, when it is not among us. so it hasn't the ability to turn our perception upside down. it can also turn our politics upside down. i put two chapters together in about 1964. it had a democratic convention and the republican convention. the republicans were the party of lincoln. meeting in san francisco. they normally had over 20% of their delegates they only have
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13 delegates, he kicked them all out. barry goldwater met with two of them and announced that he was going to vote against the civil rights act of 1964 not for racial reasons, but because it was part of states rights. instantly, the first southern republican to explain that on the ground, i didn't even know any republicans my way. we have solid south democrats. and there was not one single member of the republican party. except for george bush the elder, who was at the atlantic ocean.
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not one. not only to dominate a brand-new southern republican party, but to dominate the national republican party along the lines of the language that george wallace had invented and handed over to them. that same year, lyndon johnson met in atlantic city. and to me, it is amazing that there is not more news. i have written in detail. he had a nervous breakdown, because he is trying to help to delegates from mississippi, to see all of the regular white democrats were publicly pledging to vote for goldwater. democratic delegates were set to sent to vote for goldwater and most of them started switching parties instantly.
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the mississippi freedom democrats, they walked out because they didn't think it was fair. and in one of the conversations you can hear, john conley called him and told him that if you even let those two symbolics and this, you will be turning the democratic party and letting martin luther king decide who can be a democrat. johnson almost has a breakdown and he basically went to bed for several days and said that i will quit. i can't handle this, i'm trying to turn the democratic party slowly toward a party that will represent us. and he told carl sanders that you and i cannot survive in our modern life. you and i cannot survive to win this election.
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we have to let them vote and eat and these folks don't do it. he said what good am i? i have passed this bill, and it looks like it can do anything. what i am saying is that race without any public acknowledgment, either them or largely in history today turned the partisan structure of the united states upside down in one summer. it is still that way, it is still not talked about. what i am saying that what i have learned from studying this movement all this time against my will, because the power jacks into its, for frederick douglass
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to martin luther king, to barack obama today, magnificent progress that is going forward. we changed, we are more accepting, it is still largely on their terms. the people on the other side was to accommodate. including barack obama come he can't talk about race because the voters will find some reason to be on tenterhooks about that. he can pay enormous dividends and to me it is vital that we get a sense of history with what actually happens, so we can
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restore our capacity to move forward. i'm not saying that it's going to be easy, but i think that it is beginning to happen. we have five years of anniversaries of things that are great lessons, not only for black people, but for those in the democracy if we understand what it is doing, and it is a vital task, whether it doesn't happen automatically, it it begins and the great thing is that it shows the promise of democracy comes when you have a movement, which means that you're actually watching where do they stand. sometimes the elected
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representatives will inspire you to witty response rate that you need both of those things coming together. in order to do that, you have to have a sense of history. in 1964, this is the kind of thing that is the focus in of history. i said that i was going to be sure, and i was longer than i wanted to be, there are plenty of questions about this because i'm trying to have something in a broad scale about a novel experiment to address something that i think is coming up next five years. we've painted ourselves into a corner. lots of people believe that if
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the shotgun and the cosmonaut the ties that bind us in the great american democracy. it could be true, and it is important to be vigilant against turning, but it is also important and that more important to stretch yourself to understand the true promise of our history, because it's not obvious that it's not easy for anyone. i have most of my life working on it, and i commend it to you, and let me stop there and i will take the questions that you have. thank you for having me.
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>> i'm curious to get your perspective. one area that has evolved since the civil rights is that we have since shown that we have become a majority minority nation. not only do you have different people from different ethnic groups, but a lot of blended babies that have come to this nation. you have an african-american president and you also have a president who i think gave a very good speech yesterday, very optimistic about the future. you touch on this area of looking at our brothers and sisters, to make sure that they have the same opportunities as everyone else. the younger generation that you are targeting, this is the world they have grown up in. they haven't seen the things of the 60s. what lessons do you tell these teachers that you want to transform and give them you to you can take and evolve as good american citizens that you're
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trying to kind of bring across? >> well, that's a very good question. i think you'll find that one of the lessons is that there are many different kinds of leadership. as i said, doctor king said that he was at times behind this. really three of my 18 chapters here and most people don't even know about them. he is almost a polar model. the follow me, standing up on top of the mountains, he is very quiet, he is mystical, he is the grassroots person and he basically says i want to follow you, but i'm willing to go to the courthouse, even if we are both going to get beaten. and arrested and jailed. lots of different kinds of models of leadership. one thing is people today need
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to know the serious problems of the 1960s. but the issues were so great that most adults in that period had opposed, but really that it was a total fake and people were concerned with what to do with it. if you are talking about looking a problem in the eye and finding out what to do, most of the adult leadership in the 1960s was looking at it. certainly not in the eye, but the fact can have kids step forward and you never know when your lifecycle protesting moment will be. it is one of many lessons. the first chapter of this book i spent lots of times trying to
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figure out how to begin. and i began with begin with the first speech of doctor king on monday after the bus boycott. and then he says he can't eat dinner because these folks just made me head of this protest committee because they did not expect it to do anything. and he had to decide what to say. he walked in there totally unprepared, most of the people are strangers. he is new in the community, only 26 years old, and you can see him and hear him in the speech, stumbling around to make a connection to an audience that he doesn't really know. when he does make a connection, you can hear it. i mean, i believe that if you listen to this and i hope they will let you listen, you can
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hear the moment in which strangers responded to things he was trying to say in a way that became a wave. nobody had any sense that that was historic. that is one a movement is literally historic. you can feel it being born. so i would say includes reaching outside themselves over what is important for them. and that is a history of this movement that shows that it can change, and i would say robert kennedy as the primary example
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of that. somebody who has not studied that much today. if you look at him over the course of his career, but liberated him from a pretty hard-nosed cold war politician. somebody who could go in to mississippi and sit down and talk to him about what they were eating and talk about hunger. that was a transformation with people like him. the chief doorway or for profoundest change has been when people go through across the barriers of race. good things happen when you do. is there anybody else?
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>> some of the mixed memories for alabama, when george wallace was making those proclamations in 1963 in mobile, alabama, spring hill college has been disaggregated since 1954. the change in my life came in 1954. when this first time that i had to pay, somehow i lost that received over the years, not really hurts me. but i think that might change came, and of course it was a catholic school, it was a jesuit school.
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people asked me how did you feel. i said that i felt like any other freshman going to school. i was more involved and what i was going to wear and what i was going to do. but i remember every african-american in my class, and there were many beyond it. and they were handpicked. but the school has grown and so it started in alabama. again, i remember a picture of george wallace on the front cover of the the new york magaz. he was dressed like the statue of liberty. he was talking about rednecks in new york. [laughter] [applause]
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i appreciate your work. it is very commendable. i appreciate you doing it. vincent harding wrote a book called killing an inconvenient hero. and i would like to hear your thoughts with the memory of doctor king. there are now full-page ads by the corporations and such. so i'm wondering how much doctor king has been sanitized. how much we need to remember what you have been talking about. i would be interested in hearing what you think. what doctor king would think of us and where we are in the culture where we should go. >> being realistic, george washington, abraham lincoln, all of them are part of this. it is not a crime. but the danger is when people
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unconsciously sanitize them to make them more comfortable to him. if that is what you want to hear. i have lots and lots of people who say we should not be talking about race but the content of character. i say that that is absolutely right. he reached across the boundaries so that he could see character. he was willing to go into the southern baptist seminaries where they voted not to hear his beach if you make those efforts, and you are talking about character, you understand the meaning of race and you won't need to talk about it so much. but to say that blindly i don't need to be talking about this,
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but all the politics don't have anything to do with race, that is just self-deception. over time people can use this sends out why they are doing it. i can tell you it says the same thing. ..
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so much of the world is still in flames burn. yes, ma'am. >> you seem to have a sense of stark reality that might happen if america doesn't reclaim that sense of history regarding so what you see in the next several years as the future of america involves getting the changing am i asking the question? >> yes, ma'am. if you study history, sometimes it takes catastrophes to get people to wake up as big a catastrophe as you could ask for
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and a century of segregation was a catastrophe but most of the world was unconscious and don't remember that history. if we don't rebuild our sense of capital and faith in one another we will have a number of problems with poor education, how to adapt economically that could cause all kind of central problems in the united states so that's the great thing about it. that's one reason we should be so grateful to dr. king and not see him as a leader for black folks but for fairness and dealing with the most troublesome problems we have in that method. if we do that, we have a chance to address these problems before
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they become acute and we have terrible social dislocations and yes i think these are serious issues. i think the health of data democracy it's no joke we sit around and say we are totally dysfunctional. what i'm hoping is some of that comes out of the culture and if we have a sense of cynicism about politics and don't see politics starts with you and me and what we are going to do and who we are going to talk to tomorrow and how far we're going to reach for any of the problems of threaten the country and we can risk that sort of social dislocation that could be catastrophic. i don't care whether you're talking about the environment, the economy, education, the present system more just system and on and on. we have a large number.
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at the ngo movement, non-governmental organization, the public interest movement are diverse and didn't exist very much years ago. what it doesn't have is a cohesive sense creating some sense of movement is that we are indebted to our history if it is more accurate. so i think history is about the future and that if the future is dangerous, then it will be less dangerous and more hopeful with a better sense that we have of our history. by any historian i guess you could expect me to say that. i'm trying to put it in a different way. yes, ma'am. >> i want to thank you for the wonderful work that you are doing. i have grandchildren i definitely want to share it
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with. my question is about another age group. as i look around this room i see a number of white males of this age who lived through much of the times that you're talking about at some level or another. i'm curious to know what is the response to your work from these men. from white males primarily or of that generation. >> i think the ones who read it and come talk to me are pretty good. [laughter] but i don't know how big of a sample that is of the larger population. i am preaching to the choir. but i will say that some of my -- doing this work puts me largely in the black community for the research.
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the time i interact with people is when the books are out and i will say that not exclusively but this is a cross-cultural history. i had to interview as many people in lyndon johnson's's administration than martin luther king. but when the books come out and i try to talk to people, anybody that's read it, some of my most inspirational responses have been from older white men. women are better quite frankly. [laughter] but what we get something from a white man, it is all the more to it and in the movement is basically run by women as long as there wasn't a microphone.
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but that is just a truism of history and to some degree it is still true. i don't know how that will survive the digital age when they can do a lot of stuff just for their computer and they don't have to go out. >> man, before you leave, please come down here. i would like to answer your question. >> i was a young man in my thirties during the civil rights movement the constant chez my feelings that i kept my mouth shut. i think i'm not unique in this group.
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there was an intellectual debate that went on, discussion america and the issue of property rights versus civil rights and it's a heated the date among my friends but i want you to know that i'm ashamed. [applause] >> thank you to be added to questions, thanks to your talk today. it's open my mind a number of
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ways on the one hand you talk about the unconsciousness. when he talks about race as a challenge i would like you to reflect on what your team has been today and this whole idea of race in the 21st century. and then my second question has to do more with your book and the 18 chapters, how do you get to that, did you say i'm going to do 18 or it can now to be 18 and i see this in the book. >> to answer the second part first i don't have 18 in mind. i wanted to pick out the ones i felt our e essential to communicate to this sweep of it,
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not all the particulars and please somebody said i am sorry you had to distill or abbreviate they are not going anywhere. they are still there. they want to know more about it but there are lots and lots of books that were cited. it is a universe largely uncovered by hollywood by the way for 25 years trying to get the story made into film they want to show and they are afraid of showing anything that will make viewers felt there on the right side therefore they can't show the people in the movement themselves in conflict and that's what's real so they don't
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dewitt. i wound up with the team because that was the stan and i would say martin luther king, the first chapters about him and the last chapters, but the 16 in-between and maybe half of it are mostly about king and the freedom ride is the only event that has two chapters, and i think it's that significant because the freedom rides the movement starts small and grows in scope than the definition in their identity and the way people think of themselves. the freedom ride where young people expanding the scope of a
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movement is based and thought it was something they were doing while there were getting their degrees in the and they said this is what i do i'm willing to grow anywhere to work on it. and so in many respect said expanded so i have two stories about the freedom ride starring diane - by and large who is probably the most overlooked central figure in that period. so it cannot the stories cannot be 18 and when i did it i felt i could boil down the adjusted debt to give people a sense of it. you can't do it let's see if you can do it under 300.
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i'm very proud of this. i did it in under 200. [laughter] people say we are so out this ought to make us feel good about what we can do we don't talk more about race i forgot what you said at the beginning to read the problem of the 21st century is still the color line, too. it didn't go away. the world was still colonized it was colonized during that time and was literally by the
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european nations we don't want to have an empire but we are going into a superpower. in that sense it did make for the colonization and the race and segregation in the united states and the legacy of slavery, a global problem we are still dealing with a lot of truth in the person still paying and the dislocation today for anyplace in the world the british or french diplomat drew a line on the map at the end of the 19th century whether it was creating a lot or syria or all the nations in africa we are still paying the price for that.
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economics are coming together but if you are talking about the division that causes people to start thinking like enemies. >> thanks for being with us tonight. assigning books in the library and the ludington foundation for sponsoring this lecture. [laughter] [applause]
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